Deanna Bogart,
(Blind Pig, 2012)

Deanna Bogart, the veteran boogie-woogie pianist and R&B sax player, is back with a new album, Pianoland. This time out, she's stretching; instead of concentrating on the barrelhouse piano she's best known for, Bogart takes her musical concept, blusion -- a fusion of blues, barrelhouse, country and jazz -- a little farther down the road, adding in more jazz and less pop. She takes on Errol Garner's classic "Boogie Woogie Boogie," with its boogie rhythm and jazz melody, after opening with her own jazz-inflected tune, "In the Rain." The set offers ballads, straight-ahead blues -- Willie Dixon's "I Love the Life I Live" and a killer take on Harold Arlen's "Over the Rainbow."

So, yes, the variety is here. So much so that if it weren't for Bogart's signature style on the piano unifying everything, the album could sound unfocused. She holds it all together, though, with the help of her backing band -- Scott Ambush on bass guitar, Dan Leonard on guitar, Mike Austin on drums and Jeff Leonard on standup bass. These guys cook, making this effort a unit, not a singer-pianist with a bunch of accompanying musicians.

Bogart's voice has become more of a force over the years; it is now packed with emotion and truth. The woman obviously feels what she sings and you will, too. Her piano playing seems to have grown more subtle -- juicier, if you will; it's no longer just a good blues voice: now it's a good voice, period.

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

22 December 2012

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